Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 12/9/16.
Jewish comedian Michael Shafar has quite a few accomplishments under his belt; he is a 2016 RAW Comedy National Finalist, hosts Melbourne Comedy’s Rising Stars and has performed to sell-out crowds in3 Course Comedy at Perth’s Fringe World and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. He is now performing his solo stand-up show, Jewish-ish, at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and Milk Bar Magazinehad a chat to him all about his show and its really catchy name.
Michael has always really liked comedy and wanted to give it a go, but he only pursued his dream two years ago after completing his law degree: ‘I’m not like a religious Jewish person and I’m not doing the typical thing you’d expect from a Jewish guy my age, which is like “gotta be a lawyer, or an accountant or a doctor or something.” I finished a law degree in 2014 and then decided I didn’t really want to do law and so I just started now to pursue comedy.’
That’s exactly what Jewish-ish is about: Michael’s journey in pursuing a new path in his life. It does also discuss bagels, politics and religion, but the name of his show is quite self-explanatory: ‘I just think it’s a really funny thing that I say to people, like I tell them I’m Jewish, but I’m not like religious or anything, so I’m Jewish-ish. I just thought it had a good ring to it,’ he says. ‘I think the point is that I’m also Jewish and I identify in that way, but I don’t really believe in God and stuff. I went to school and they really try hard to make you believe in God in Jewish schools, but I never kind of bought it.’
Michael expands that different people in his audience will take away their own individual interpretations from his show: ‘I think they’ll laugh a lot mostly, but I’m imagining a lot of Jewish people will come to the show because they’ll be interested to see a Jewish comedian. I think they might actually even enjoy it more than non-Jewish people because I think it’ll be an interesting insight into Jewish culture and the way the Jewish people think and my background.’
Shafar continues: ‘My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and I talk about that in the show as well. So yeah, I think Jewish people will enjoy it because they’ll get to hear someone talk about their culture and religion, but for non-Jewish people I think it’ll be interesting just to get inside what the Jewish experience is like and what my background and beliefs are like.’
Jewish and non-Jewish people will most likely laugh at different parts of the show, since Michael has witnessed this happen in his previous shows. ‘I always find that Jewish audiences and non-Jewish audiences do laugh at different things, it’s interesting. It’s good to have a mix because you’ll get people laughing at some things. It’s good to have a broad range of people in the audience.’
If Michael could describe himself in three words, he would use the words “Jewish”, “comedian” and “lactose-intolerant”. ‘Just to make it even more annoying, I’m also fructose intolerant as well, like I usually cook at home. I’m an absolute nightmare to go out with,’ he says.
Michael’s ideal place to travel to is New York. ‘I’ve been there before and it’s the best place in the world for seeing comedy and doing comedy, so probably New York I guess. I was there for a few weeks and yeah it’s just so much fun and there’s always something to do. I saw so much comedy, it was just such a joy; I just really want to go back there.’ he says.
As for his goals, Michael is currently focused on performing his Jewish-ish stand-up show. ‘Well, I guess I have more short term goals, so right now it’s just do this solo show and make it really good. Hopefully if I can do a comedy festival next year or the year after that would be a goal, and I’m also going to be travelling through Asia and doing gigs, so that would be really really fun. I think it’s a great experience to play to different audiences so it’ll be really fun.’
Michael’s key advice to aspiring comedians to ‘keep getting on stage, since that’s the only way to get good.’ He also assures me that this show is going to be jam-packed full of laughs, so definitely come on down for a laugh at Club Voltaire on Friday September 16, Saturday September 17, followed by Friday September 23 and Saturday September 24.
Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan Street, North Melbourne
Friday September 16 – Saturday September 24